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Talk about hidden pearls. This is down near the IB sloughs, in Nestor, where Saturn Boulevard heads for the border.

That only makes Baja Oyster & Sushi Bar (1912 Coronado Avenue, Suite 105, Nestor, 619-575-4606) more weirdly amazing. I hopped off the 901 bus last night just because the setting sun was reflecting on its sign. And I thought: hmm. Oysters. Since when has San Diego had an oyster bar?

It’s part of a fairly isolated commercial strip. But walk through its doors at seven in the evening and … par-tee!

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It’s all corrugated iron and palm frond palapas and chairs made from surfboards and sushi bars and in-your-face kitchen with crazy cooks...

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...and flaming stovetops, and crowded and buzzing. All ages. I’m like how long has this been going on?? And without me???

So I sit up to the counter facing the kitchen and check the menu. They have a sign advertising $1.35 fish tacos outside...

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...and I see that most of the specialty tacos go for about $3. The oysters? Half-dozen are $8.95. Bit above my pay grade right now. Leonard on my right says they’ll pretty much make up what you want. Patty his wife’s having a shrimp and cheese taco ($3.50) that looks great.

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Long story short: I get a dee-lish creamy, spicy shrimp taco ($3.75), the aguachile tostada, where the lemon juice’s acids actually “cook” the shrimp ($3.75, and a smoked fish taco ($3).

And that’s the one that sticks in my mind. A beautiful grill-burnt tortilla and that wild smoky flavored marlin with tons of flavorful gunge around it, hot salsa and a huge chunk of avocado.

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The best decision I made upfront: stick with the tacos. Other plates can get pricey. See one shrimp sampler for $49.95.

Then Leonard goes and tells Leo the chef to give me…oh man. A tempura battered, chocolate and raspberry-striped ice cream dessert. Costs him $4.95.

I came out shaken and stirred. And yes, $18.26 the poorer. But for that I’ve gotten five totally interesting tacos, including two for the lovely Carla.

And felt like I’d just been down to Cabo and back.

More in an upcoming Tin Fork.

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